John inhaled audibly and shook himself into the soldier's stance. He could do this. It was the right thing to do.
He'd been telling himself it was the right thing for a while, and yet part of him still wasn't sure. That was the same part which questioned whether it would be worth it, in the end. He took another deep breath, and forced himself to concentrate. Now wasn't the time for questioning himself. The decision had been made. The box had been buried.
She appeared out of nowhere and took him by surprise. Anthea- if that was even her real name. John stood, speechless. Anthea raised her eyebrows and smiled.
"John Watson. Nice to finally meet you." She looked him up and down, her eyes lingering on the top of his head. "I thought you'd be taller."
"You're a crossroads demon?" John was confused. She blinked, and her eyes turned red.
"Yes. Poor Jemima here isn't- no, Anthea wasn't her real name- I'm just borrowing her for a while. I thought this might be easier if you saw a familiar face." This raised more questions than it answered, but John stopped himself from asking. There were things to be done.
"So I can make a deal with you, right? You give me what I want and I give you my soul in ten years?" She smiled again.
"I see you've done your homework. That's the gist of it, yeah...depending on what you want, of course." John narrowed his eyes.
"There are extra conditions?"
"Naturally. We're nothing if not wily."
"And they are?"
"Well," she said, circling him, "I'm assuming you're here for Sherlock?" John nodded. "But you'll want him to keep his deductive reasoning?"
"Is there a Sherlock without it?" She laughed coldly.
"No, I suppose there isn't. Interesting that it came in a deal, too." John's mouth dropped open. "Oh, come on. You think that kind of skill comes naturally? His mother couldn't bear the fact that her two children were so ordinary. They were intelligent, of course- more intelligent than usual for your species- but that just wasn't enough for her. She made the deal and got two extraordinary children out of it." She laughed again, a little more heartily, "Didn't stop her husband from sleeping around or leaving her for the younger model. I didn't even have to come for her in the end, she came to me."
This was more information than John had been expecting. He wasn't sure how to respond.
"Interesting, isn't it? How everybody in Sherlock's life makes a deal for him when he wouldn't make a deal for anybody. Not even you." She cocked her head. "Yet, here you are."
"I know how he is."
"Oh, but do you? Do you really?" She stopped circling and turned to face him. "Does anyone?"
"Look, I'm not here to dissect the deepest nature of Sherlock Holmes. I know how selfish he is. I just want to make a deal. I want him back. I don't care what it costs." The demon considered this.
"Ten years. That's all you get."
"And he can't use that brain of his to get you out of it- ten years, either you come to me or I'll find you. No exceptions, no compromises."
"Fine! Just do it!"
"You have to ask specifically. What is it you want?" She eyed John almost apprehensively. For a fleeting second, John was suspicious of this; but the thought of getting Sherlock back was too powerful. He stopped thinking.
"I want you to bring Sherlock back to me." Anthea's eyes turned red and the demon smiled widely.
"Done. Now all you have to do is seal it with a kiss." She walked purposefully towards John, who hesitated for a fraction of a second- after all, there was a woman he knew inside there- but then leant up and placed his lips on hers.